There is plenty of information on the world wide web about Cats and their diets. The primary concern for us as breeders and cat lovers is that for decades we have not been offering our domestic cats a natural diet because the stuff on the shelf is exaclty that... Unnatural! Simply put Cats are obligate Carnivores and their digestive systems are designed to process animal protiens or animal matter. They "can" eat plant proteins and grains of course, especially when we process them into little salmon or chicken flavored pellets and mix it into chicken bi-product. No it's not going to kill them this week, this month or this year, but it will be the major contributing factor when they do live or die with diabetes, GI Tract issues, and eventually renal failure. Cats also do not "think to drink" so they need to get their water from their food. All of these factors lead us to the consensus that a primary raw diet is the one way to ensure your cat a long happy life. Wether you choose to purchase a meat grinder and supplements to grind your own raw preparation or buy from a service or purchase prepared raw frozen from your local Pet store; Your going to notice their silky coat and the low oder of their litter box from the natural diet they are receiving. If you are immune compromised or live with and prepare food for a child under 5 or elderly, a raw diet for your cat is not advised. A good high quality grain free wet food for your cat would be the healthiest second choice. This gives them a significant ammount of moisture with their food. But lables can be deceiving so here is a list compiled by Dr. Lynn Lankes DVM that gives a good variety. You can also offer your cats water through a simple plug in fountain avaialble at most pet stores these days. This will entice them to drink water more often and provide and clean filtered source. If you would like to read more about a Raw diet and feeding in general there is a plethora of valuable articles on catinfo.org
There's been a long lived disconnect between cat owners who feel their cats should be allowed to roam the great outdoors and those who insist on keeping them inside. Fortunately there are ways to keep your cat safe and allow them to experience the outside world as well. We are completely opposed to allowing a cat to have unattended access outside and have formulated our own techniques to give them all the exposure they desire while keeping them safe. Our first area of accessibility is leash training!! A good comfortable and easy to use harness will allow a cat to accompany you on outtings to parks and stores. They get the experience without the dangers of cars and other cats and animals. I have taken my own cats to the local dog beach with great results! Another very simple and affordable solution is a cat proof fence addition. If you have an existing fence in your yard you can easily add a cat fence
around the top. You can even DIY a cat fence for a more affordable alternative. I do feel that cats outside in a cat proof yard should still be monitored when at play. The top would still be open to birds of prey and other animals that could harm you cat. So there is also another great way to keep your cat(s) active indoors when you cant take them out. Several strategically placed shelves that are cat only make for great exploration time. Feather toys are our best friends! 20 minutes of play a day will keep your cat on track! And last but certainly not least... The Cat Wheel! Yes just like a hamster wheel only much bigger. This great investment can offer hours of exercise and play when your not around. Bengals are high energy cats and need stimulation on a regular basis!
Perhaps one of the most controversial subjects in the feline and veterinarian community is immunizations. Studies show that immunizations can cause a variety of issues that could otherwise be avoided by preventing exposure. Consider that there is no need to prevent something if there is not a risk of exposure. Or in the case of FIP the vaccine is actually not effective which makes it dangerous when administered to a kitten that might actually develop the disease from the exposure. The FIV vaccine will actually cause the kitten to test positive after its administered. This can create total chaos and even result in a cat being put down because it was mistakenly identified as FIV positive. The best prevention for FIV is reducing the chance of exposure. Keeping your cat contained indoors or as discussed earlier in escape proof outdoor area is the only way to prevent FIV infection. Since FIV is transmitted through a bite would (saliva-to-blood), a simple trip to the vets office is not a concern.
The 3 primary vaccines that are given to kittens are
Calicivirus, Herpesvirus and Panleukopenia. The first two Calci/Herpe are cold like viruses and the cat can fight off with their own immune system and the vaccine does not prevent these. There is also the FeLV or Feline Leukemia vaccine. Again another vaccine that is moot when a cat is kept indoors because infection would have to come through close contact or living with an infected cat. And of course we have Rabies! Yes rabies vaccines are required by law in most areas of the US. Again if your cat is kept indoors and away from the threat of being bit by a rabid animal you should avoid this vaccine if you can. If you are buying a cat from us that has to be shipped we will have our vet administer a PureVax Rabies shot as required by law. This is the safest form of live rabies vaccine with no adjuvants. We still feel that one dose is sufficient and does not need to be repeated unless travel is planned. Now back to the previously mentioned Panleukopenia also known as Distemper. Because of the fact that the actual virus is resistant to most forms of disinfecting and because it can be trasnmitted through many surfaces even our own clothing, I feel that this is the one Vaccine that should be adminsitered to kittens only. We will give kittens leaving our cattery their first dose at 8-9 weeks and the second dose should be given by your vet at 16 weeks no less. Because the immunity is shown to last the life of the cat there is not need to give boosters. It is important to understand that one of the reasons distemper can be so deadly is that symptoms are not always clinical until the disease has progressed too far. Again the choice to spend a few dollars more on the Purvax should be a no brainer. Unfortunately the distemper vac for cats is not available separately and is always administered along with Calici/Herpes in the form of the FVRCP 3 in 1 vaccine. The choice to give any immunizations to your cats should not be take lightly. According to Lisa A. Pierson DVM, author of the wonderfully informative site catinfo.org - the following factors should be considered when choosing if and when to vaccinate.
Issues to consider:
• Age of patient
• Risk of exposure to the disease in question
• Prevalence of the disease in the environment
• Consequence of the infection
• Overall health of the patient
• Vaccine efficacy
• DOI studies (Duration of Immunity) for the vaccine
• Vaccine properties (adjuvanted/non-adjuvanted, etc.)
• Titer testing
• Owner's comfort level
We urge you to do as much or as little research as you feel comfortable with for your situation but be prepared when you see the vet. Remember medical professionals will always want to error on the side of caution and it doesn't hurt that they charge $20 for a $2 injection either. Be confindent in your choices and don't be swayed by fancy speech and quick answers.
Bengal Cats and Genetic Health Concerns
HCM - Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
HCM is a genetic mutation that is passed down through certain lines in Cats. HCM is not a death sentence as a Cat with mild to moderate HCM can live a normal life. If a cat is diagnosed with severe HCM it can still live well for many years but there is no way to predict life expectancy. HCM postive Bengals are being reduced through breeder testing and dilignent breeding programs not allowing this inhereted disease to continue. We do not test our available kittens as our breeders are screened yearly for 3 years and all our breeders were either bred by us with HCM negative parents or purchased from reputable breeders who also screen for HCM. If you would like to know more about HCM here is an article/ interview from Bengals Illustrated with Dr. Mark Kittleston DVM
PK-Deficency - Erythrocyte Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency
PK Deficiency is a type of inhereted anemia that was found to be prominent in Bengals. While symptoms can be variable and intermittent they range from lethargy, weight loss and swollen abdomen. This information is from the UC Davis Vetrenary Genetics Lab
where we test our breeders for PK-Def. Again with diligent testing we can eliminate this disease from our breed. All very good reasons to support reputable and registered Catteries.
Tritrichomonas foetus is a single celled flagellated protozoan parasite that was previously known to spread in cattle but has more recently been found in cats that live in groups, such as shelters and catteries. TTF can be a complicated parasite for several reasons. Mainly testing is not as simple as positive and negative as the more affordable test can miss the parasite, in addition cats can be asymptomatic carriers. As a breeder we take this parasite infection very seriously and will test any and all incoming cats purchased from any breeder. We encourage you to read more about TTF and support the efforts of the STRIVE program run by Dr. Jody Gookin DVM.
Coccidosis is a common single-celled protazoan parasite that is found in many species including humans. It generally only effects the health of a kitten or elderly, sick cat and presents itself with watery loose stool, that may have mucus and or blood. Healthy adult cats can shed the oosyst and remain unsymptomatic which may then spread to a kitten. If left untreated symptoms can progress and lead to severe weight loss and even death. If your ever faced with a diarettic cat you should always seek a vetreanarian to properly diagnosse and treat the infection. We practive prophylactic deworming in our cattery before ever kitten leaves our facility. We also are trained to identify and treat common parasites with the use of a high powered microscope and over-the-counter medications. This is an important step that can save you needless worry and money at the vets office.
Giardia is also a typical single celled parasitic protozoa that is also transmitted between cats and other animals through fecal-oral route. It can also survive many month in the envioronment without a host which allows it to spread easily and is difficult to erradicate. Symptoms are watery loose green or yellow foul smelling stool but cats can also be asymptomatic. Fortunately giarda can easily be treated with a gentle over the counter anti-protazoal such as Panacur. While some medications are gentle they should not be given without proper diagnosis, this can cause these medications to become innefective when they are needed.
If you have questions about any of the health issues that we have covered in this section feel free to contact us anytime. This information is not intended to replace a qualified feline veteranarians diagnosis and treatment plan. While diareah seems to be a common symptom in many cases, simple food transitioning or just stress associated with a transition can cause GI irregularity. The regular use of a feline probiotic such as Pet Authroities Acidopholus+ is highly reccomended to keep your cats GI health and immunity fortifed against foreign pathogens.